Wild Game Pantry Begins

Posted in Conservation, Food pantries on May 19, 2009 by ostrakinos

Safari Club International meat dropPraise God we have made significant contact and connection with our local sportsmen and in particular two organizations – Safari Club International and the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The Safari Club International (SCI) has approximately 190 chapters and has spent nearly $300 million on hunter advocacy and wildlife conservation since its inception.  Since 2000, SCI has spent $140 million on protecting the freedom to hunt through policy advocacy, litigation and education for federal and state legislators to ensure hunting is protected for future generations. Through direct involvement and partnerships with like-minded organizations, SCI has become a political force in Washington, D.C. and other capitals around the world..

SCI LogoSince 2000, the SCI Foundation (SCIF) has provided $47 million to conservation, wildlife education, and humanitarian programs around the world- million pounds (almost 500,000 kg) of venison to those in need. Nearly 500 Safari Care Bags (the “Blue Bags”) were delivered to needy villages and orphanages around the world. Over 300 disabled hunters were provided with an assisted hunting experience through SCIF programs.

We are proud to be a part of this legacy by the starting of a partnership with SCI.  We were recently given about 150 lbs of free ground venison to use in our benevolence ministry and to support our Homeland Missions community intern volunteers.  Ron Bartels and his son graciously organized and provided for our needs by meeting us in New Orleans to transfer this wonderful bounty and harvest – Free protein for an important cause.

This is a great example of alternative ministry strategies for the city – a union of resource whereby one organization’s purpose and scope blends and cooperates with another group’s SCI pickupfocus.  The marriage of co-benevolent purpose allows us the opportunity to not only meet new friends but also, to forge generational ties to conservation organizations in our region.  Another entity that has come along side of our efforts is the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Agent Christian Jones brought us three deer that were harvested in the Lacombe area.  We now have almost 500 lbs of meat in our freezers!  What a tremendous blessing. We thank these groups for their willingness to help us and we look forward to more to come.

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Food Pantry vs. Wild

Posted in Conservation, Food pantries, Reclaiming, Resourcefulness, Stewardship with tags , , , , , on April 1, 2009 by ostrakinos

neon-foodMaintaining a food pantry in our ministry has been more difficult than I had imagined.  What we have lacked is the steady supply of foods to give out to those in need.  All of our attempts at locating a constant source of products have so far turned into dead ends and currently being a small congregation limits our funding.  Some organizations we have sought assistance from want to tell you who to feed and how to feed them stifling your discretion in simply handing out that cool glass of water.  Others say they will get back with you and never call again.

I suppose we must exercise a greater tenacity than what we have previously in order to secure the resources we need even though there isn’t much ‘competition’ in our area.  In fact, since our Relief Center is in St. Tammany Parish and in east Slidell there is really only one other ministry that we know of that handles benevolence work as we do.  The search continues.

As a result of increased diligence, I recently found an interesting organization called Sportsmen Against Hunger. This chapter is in Michigan and supplied 40,000 lbs of venison and an equal amount of canned foods last year!  Their motto is “Channeling Precious Natural Resources Into Opportunities for a Better Community” You gotta love that!deer

In moving through various channels and discussions with wildlife and fisheries agencies via phone calls, I’ve located some good possibilities in free food such as the legal donation of meat from hog and deer management efforts where the animals are claimed by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents. The catch is that the agents themselves cannot keep the meat so they are willing to give it to us.  Good fresh meat. We just have to butcher it. That’s what I call partnership.

We are looking into the same thing re: fishing rodeos and other events such as ‘Clean Out your Freezer Days’ where sportsmen donate unused food from their freezers to worthy community food banks.  Networking with the area’s fishing and gaming community is a great way to be both good stewards of their harvesting and staying well-connected to our local neighbors which is another dimension of our Homeland Mission work.

After a great conversation today with a new conservation agency in the White Kitchen wildlife preserve area near our church, I am looking forward to helping organize a community awareness meeting to address reuse issues related to post-Katrina impacts on about a 500 acre wildlife region.  Gotta love that, too. Stay tuned for more details.

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Cultural Racism

Posted in 'Racism' on March 23, 2009 by ostrakinos

chicken-coopIf you are a chicken in a coop and every time you see a fellow egg layer hauled off and plucked it’s by the hands of a wolf,  soon enough,  you begin to distrust anything wolfish.  Over time, you register certain profiles dangerous and untrustworthy and make adjustments.   That is exactly what happens in urban contexts where certain concentrated ethnicities commit crimes.

If you live in a predominantly black city and each evening’s news broadcast is filled with yet another black youth being charged with murder and theft, you get a little cautious. Most of the violent crime in New Orleans fits this description. It is mostly black on black drug-related offenses and progressively the white population begins to mistrust anyone who is black. If most of the criminals in the city were Hispanic or Asian there would be the same bias. But is the chicken somehow wrong for learning that wolves will eat him? And how is he suppose to know that the current wolf at his door is really a vegetarian?

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Now let’s be clear about a vital point –  I am not a racist.  In fact, I can’t even be one at all since I don’t believe in races to begin with. There is only one human race – mankind.  We were created in God’s image from one blood and we exist as people groups in differing geographical regions with various physical traits.  Our differences as people create varied cultures and subcultures and those pockets of variance and difference become shaping influences.  Those influences along with our genetic predispositions, parenting, personalities and choices mold us into who we become. We are not born prejudiced; we learn it.  However, not all prejudices are wrong as any chicken can tell you.

What virtually gets ignored in the  ‘race’ discussion is the fact that stereotypes come from truth not fiction. It is not an invention that certain ethnicities like certain foods and that certain people groups prefer certain colors and types of automobiles.  Do all of them? Of course not. But to recognize major trends and truths as being correct does not make one a bigot. And what about those who live under negative stereotypes such as criminal labels?  Take a look at this video report about an experiment done by a high school film maker.

Can it be that the children pick white baby dolls as the safe doll cause most of what they see in crash-movietheir own communities shows them ‘darker skinned people’ as thugs and ‘ganstas’? Perhaps a high percentage of negative and poor examples in their lives are from the black side? It seems that everyone assumes racism here but if a ‘race’ reinforces the stereotype by promoting it and in many cases (as in rap music and hip-hop) glorifying it, why are we shocked? Bill Cosby makes similar arguments as have many others when speaking about the double-standard in using the “N” word.

Here are a few Cosby quotes from a Washington Post article about his appearance at a Constitution Hall event in Washington years ago commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision that paved the way for integrated schools

“Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids – $500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for ‘Hooked on Phonics.’

“They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t,’ ‘Where you is’ … And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. … Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. … You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!”

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On imprisoned blacks:

“These are not political criminals…these are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, [saying] ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?”

Straight talk with sensibility. Too bad some choose to either ignore real hate disguised as ethno-prejudice or play a minority victim with two-faced requirements and special pleadings.  But thankfully we have not been called to dwell too heavily on this asphalt playground.  While we are to bring a taste of redemptive renewal and glory to the streets where we live, we are commanded to look beyond the neon sky’s ‘race’ baiting and inconsistent mantras to the new heaven where we shall see a multiethnic multitude so vast we cannot even count them. There, every nation and every tribe and every tongue and every people will be united with their God for all eternity drinking from the water of life.

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Conditional Mercy

Posted in Clothes distribution, Food pantries, Resourcefulness, Stewardship on March 2, 2009 by ostrakinos

mercy-meansI was just out of college and working my first full-time job in outside sales when I met a man at an Exxon convenience store who asked me for money.  “Hey pal, can ya give a guy a few bucks?” I’m sure you know the drill.   I was now employed and able to keep a modest amount of spending cash in my front pocket. As I traveled along my daily routines panhandlers seemed to be all-too-ready to direct my discretionary funds into their waiting cups. After seeing several street pitches and beggar speeches I felt geared up and ready for the next approach.

When I pulled out two whole fresh and crisp dollar bills in my self-righteous mini-contract, laying them on his palm I said,  “Now listen… here’s a couple of dollars, but there’s only one thing… do NOT spend this on booze!”

“Oh, no sir.. no sir… just gettin’ a bit to eat.”

“Okay, cause if I do catch you drinking this up I’m gonna get you! Got it?!”

“Yes sir, absolutely sir, no problem.” And I left.

About twenty minutes later I came back that way up the road to stop in on the store panhandle-honest-beermanager as part of my sales route and who did I see but Mr. No Problem sitting on the curb gulping down the  last few sips of his 24 oz. Budweiser!  As my Honda Civic darted anxiously across the parking lot revving up out of first gear, I watched his eyes widen like a gecko caught in a 1972 Polaroid flash. With his arms flailing east and west and his legs desperately seeking to catch up to his mid-torso, Mr. No Problem scrambled wildly over a concrete embankment and ran off; rapidly scurrying down the woodsy trail next to the air hose area while the two dollar beer can skidded past my front wheel.  Since that day, I don’ t think I’ve ever seen a non-athlete run that fast.

I retell  that story here because if you’ve spent any time in the cities both inner and outer bands you have met similar people.  If you’ve done any amount of urban missions you have seen them by the pickup truck load – people who you are almost certain will either use your benevolence for the wrong purposes or who will just flat out not give a rip about your assistance as soon as they have gotten what it is that they want from you and your ‘mission work’.  It could be a buck or two while getting lunch, or a free meal in a soup line, or clothes and a donated vehicle; somewhere along that mercy path the ungrateful and opportunists will cherry pick your outreach.

So what do you do?  Do we make the needy fill out a ream of forms and applications in an attempt to weed out the charlatans before we feed them?  If a man says he doesn’t work, does he then not eat as his just due? Are we to have them respond to a field sobriety exam before they get a coat?  Does their response to our grace have anything at all to do with how much help and assistance we give to them? And if so, isn’t that just as lame and cold as a government booth?

God freely bestows upon even the most heinous of men a common grace that should cause us shame in how we view the least and the lost since it always seems as if we are too conditional.  Good stewardship in how we handle our resources does dictate for us a certain level of accountability and regulation, but at what point do we stop looking like our merciful Savior and begin to resemble more of an over-bloated nonsensical neo-socialist program?

I think of how every day I take the Lord for granted in some way and yet He continues to bless me in my ungrateful bends.  Who am I to impose greater restrictions upon serving others than are placed on me by the One who overcame all things so that I might abundantly give?  Where do I draw the line in these areas without causing undesired backlashes while remaining unconditionally kind and wise in my methods? If they want my coat do I just give them my shirt too without any conditional thoughts whatsoever?

May God help us in determining those parameters correctly.

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